MALUTI Mountain Brewery (MMB) has launched the second round of its youth entrepreneurship development programme, Kickstart, with the fund increased from M800 000 to M1 million this year.
Kickstart is part of a SABMiller-wide Youth Empowerment Programme of which MMB is an affiliate company. The programme trains and finances budding entrepreneurs selected through an application process by an independent team of business experts.
Speaking at the Kickstart launch ceremony at a Maseru hotel yesterday, MMB Managing Director Tom Mpedi said the initiative was a corporate social responsibility programme aimed at equipping young people with good business ideas and financial resources to start or improve their small businesses.
He said the programme gives hope to unemployed young Basotho, who yearn for a helping hand to unlock their entrepreneurial spirit.
“You will agree with me that the number of graduates from all the tertiary institutions in the country increases each year, yet most of them are not employed,” said Mr Mpedi.
“The youth unemployment rate in Lesotho was estimated at 38 percent in 2010 by the International Labour Organisation and the trend has not been changing in recent years.”
The first round of the programme was launched in February 2013 with the winners announced in August of the next year.
“It is with great pleasure that I announce that in the past year we sponsored five start-ups and supported one company to improve its business,” Mr Mpedi said.
“Of the six youth proposals funded, two were exclusively owned by women.”
The six winning youth proposals in the first round were in the fields of medical assistance, textile manufacturing, agriculture and entertainment as well as information and communication technology.
They included textile manufacturers House of Thethana, agricultural business Veggie Shack, Lekaota Media publishers of Rise n Shine magazine, medical assistants PEMS ambulances, and an ICT-based company as well as a disk jockey.
Mr Mpedi said to date the businesses in the first round were all operational, adding that this time around they also wanted to include youths from rural areas.
“As we launch the second round of project Kickstart, which we will award in August 2015, we are appealing to youths from districts other than Maseru, especially those who are based in the rural areas, to take interest in Project Kickstart and submit their proposals,” he said.
“We want this programme to cover youth in all the districts and we will make efforts, with partnership from the media, to send out those messages to other youths to apply.”
In this year’s edition, Mr Mpedi added, entrants who do not receive grants would still acquire business plan writing skills to source funding from other donors.
“For those who will submit winning proposals, they will receive a one-year mentorship programme to ensure they settle smoothly into the new business world,” he said.
MMB Corporate Affairs Director Nthati Moorosi also said the business idea’s viability and its potential employment opportunities were some of the factors they would consider.
“MMB will also engage mentors to guide the planning process and monitoring as well as assisting with the necessary implementation,” Ms Moorosi said.
“Our goal is to produce businesses that are profitable, sustainable and have the potential to grow. We also encourage businesses that can create jobs for others.”
In addition to the Kickstart initiative, Mr Mpedi said MMB was also involved in social investment and tackling alcohol abuse. The brewery has also embarked on a retailer development programme which focuses on training small enterprises trading in their beverages with business management skills.
“In the past financial year, we have been able to train 41 retailers from Maseru and among those who benefitted from the training were young people who own bars and restaurants,” Mr Mpedi said.
“We care about the communities we operate in and continue to appeal to consumers of our products to enjoy them responsibly through different campaigns and different channels of communication.”
The launch ceremony was also attended by Gender, Youth and Sports Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu, the ministry’s Principal Secretary Majara Molapo, Lesotho National Development Corporation Public Relations Officer Ntsiuoa Sekete, BEDCO Chief Executive Robert Likhang among others.